Saturday, April 20, 2024

Paul Simon Will Receive Prestigious Literary Award from PEN America for His Iconic Songs


Bob Dylan has a Nobel Prize, Aretha Franklin got a Pulitzer. So it’s only right that Paul Simon is feted by a literary organization.

Simon will receive a special award on May 16th from PEN America– and rightly so. He’s getting the the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award in the annual gala at the blue whale room at the Museum of Natural History.

Simon will join an illustrious group of past literary honorees including President Barack Obama and Ava DuVernay and PEN/Barbey Literary Service Award recipients Margaret Atwood, Bob Woodward, Stephen King, Patti Smith, the late Toni Morrison and Stephen Sondheim, Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Zadie Smith and last year, Saturday Night Live (SNL) creator, writer and executive producer Lorne Michaels.

Simon’s music for the last 60 years remains popular and legendary. But his writing– the lyrics — are, I think, masterpieces that are the equivalent of great poetry and novels. It’s very cool that PEN feels that way, too. If he just got it for “The Sound of Silence” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that would be sufficient. But the whole catalog deserves it.

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said: “Paul Simon has inspired fans worldwide with lyrics and songs that entire generations know by heart and can recognize from the very first notes. His fascination with different cultures, traditions and rhythms have helped open our ears and minds to essential musical traditions. We are elated to pay tribute to this unparalleled creative artist whose music, along with his commitment to humane values and humanitarian causes, has made him a cultural icon.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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